Hi, I'm Tina aka 'That Hair Girl' and I'm crowd-funding application fees for my PhD on the Evolution of Human Hair Diversity.
- This summer, I graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in Biological Anthropology. In February, I got an offer from Cambridge to do my PhD there. Unfortunately, none of the bodies I applied to decided to fund me. To take up my place, I would need to come up with £19,020 for the first year (and it's a 3 year program...) - yeah, not gonna happen. Instead I want to apply again.
- Aside from Cambridge, I've spoken to some really amazing Professors at Penn State and Harvard University who've encouraged me to apply to their graduate programs and work with them on this project, but I simply cannot afford the cost of applications before the deadlines - which is why I need your help
Why human hair diversity?
- Barely any work has been done into its evolution. The last anthropological study into hair texture was 40 years ago.
- There are no studies on populations' variation in hair colour that use truly objective methods.
- The few studies that do exist tend to lump all variation in the world into the categories "European", "Asian" and "African", and in the process completely homogenise any variation that exists within these vast geographical areas.
There are a lot of cool questions we could answer with this research, such as:
- Why did humans evolve such a wide range of hair textures and colours?
- Do certain textures/colours provide an evolutionary advantage?
- Why did humans lose all their body hair but keep their scalp hair?
Why is this important?
Well, hair, along with skin colour and facial features, has been used (and is still used) as a trait for distinguishing people into "races". While there is no scientific basis for these categories, we do look different, and people want to know why. I want to contribute to advancing our scientific understanding of human phenotypic variation (physical differences) in order to counter a lot of the outdated, prejudiced, pseudoscientific explanations that still float around.
If you want to know more about why I want to study the evolution of human hair diversity, I've put up a website humanhairdiversity.com. And I'm also around on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr if you want to holler at me.
What have you come up with so far?
So, considering I wanted answers to all these questions, I spent pretty much most of my undergraduate degree reading all of the literature on hair variation, developing new methods to measure hair texture and collaborating with scientists in Japan to compare chemical variation in hair colour.
I collected hair from a bunch of people in London and Cambridge, did hair samples to the other side of the world and collected lots of data (and did even more statistics *sigh*). And here's the great news - we got some really awesome results that I am dying to share with you all! The manuscript is being prepped and I expect it'll be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal within the next few months. Those who help me out here will be obviously be in the loop about the details.
What's the money for?
To apply to American graduate programs I need to GREs which cost $200 (excl travel to the test centre). Then there's the application fees for Penn State ($65) and Harvard ($105) and Cambridge (£50) and each need transcripts from me which will cost me about £140 to request and send in total. So, all together I'm going to need to get £430 together minimum. And if I really let myself dream there, it would be great if I could raise an extra £500-600, as that would help substantially towards travel costs for interviews. Anything over that will go towards research costs and those of you who decide to kindly donate to the project will be kept in the loop - see the rewards =====>
If I could, I would call at the Bank of Mom & Dad, but the money's just not there. I have a job starting the end of November, but my first paycheck will not be in time for these deadlines, and despite doing some tutoring and selling everything that isn't bolted down to the house, I'm only barely covering daily costs. Also, with about £20K in debt from my undergraduate degree, lending money is also not really an option for me at this moment.
So, I hope you'll understand that this is a last resort for me - I really wouldn't ask if I had another choice.
If you didn't get funding the first time around, what makes you think you'll get it now?
When I applied (and got the offer), I hadn't yet completed my B.A., so funding bodies would have had to take a chance and believe me when I said "I promise I'll work really hard and get a First" (spoiler: they didn't). BUT, now I've graduated with a First overall and an 82/Starred First for my dissertation which proves I had no life as an undergraduate, but was hardcore dedicated to my thesis!
And what're you going to do for me?
I got a bunch of rewards lined up on the side, check it out if you like. Also, I, Tina Lasisi, hereby solemnly swear to serve face
(and hair) throughout my campaign for your entertainment, as well as interesting Bio Anth tidbits relating to the project. And during this time you can ask me any questions you like about evolution, hair, doughnuts, zodiac compatibility etc through Facebook
(does one ask questions on Instagram? Idk, I'm new to this).
Any other way I can help?
Yes! Please share! If you were in any way involved in any of my research or are simply interested, let people know! Knowing that it's not just one mad anthropologist interested in the evolution of human hair helps a lot!